Europe's leisure destinations have fared better

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ForwardKeys' most resilient EU destinations for Q4 2020.
ForwardKeys' most resilient EU destinations for Q4 2020. Photo Credit: ForwardKeys

The latest ForwardKeys report on European flight bookings shows that Europe's most resilient destinations in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic are leisure destinations.

The ECM-ForwardKeys Quarterly Barometer is published jointly by ForwardKeys and European Cities Marketing, a nonprofit organization that promotes and links members from more than 115 major cities in 39 countries.

As of Oct. 27, total inbound flight bookings for the EU and the U.K. for the fourth quarter of 2020 were 85.6% behind where they were for the same period last year. 

Heraklion, the capital of the Greek island of Crete, fared best with a relatively modest 25.4% drop in flight bookings from 2019, followed by Faro, the gateway to Portugal's Algarve region, which fell by 48.7%.

The next three spots were Athens; Naples, Italy; and Larnaca, Cyprus, whose bookings dropped by 71.4%, 73.4% and 74.2%, respectively.

The cities in the second half of the list, in descending order, comprise Porto, Portugal, down by 74.5%; Palma, Mallorca, 74.6%; Stockholm at 75.8%; Malaga, Spain, 78.2%; and Lisbon, 78.8%.

Paris, which is normally Europe's second most popular destination, saw a bookings drop of 82.3% behind 2019 levels.

"When one digs into the data behind these headline numbers, we see that people are still making travel plans; and within those plans there are five clear trends," said Olivier Ponti, vice president, Insights, ForwardKeys.

"First, leisure and personal travel are holding up much better than business travel, which is virtually nonexistent right now," he said. "Second, bookings are dominated by the Christmas holiday period. Third, people are booking at even shorter notice than usual, probably wary of travel restrictions being imposed without warning. 

"Fourth, fares are consistently on the low side, with airlines doing everything in their power to tempt back travelers; and fifth, destinations which have remained open to EU travel, such as Stockholm, have suffered relatively less badly."

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